Thursday, January 5, 2017

Nuzzel for Textbook Authors:10 Things I Learned

Whether you already have an email newsletter or a social media stream (or two) that relate to your discipline or your textbook(s), you may want to consider starting a Nuzzel newsletter.

I have a few blogs going. Some address either students or teachers  in my field (or in any field). Others provide updates and insights about specific textbooks I author. And each of them has a related Twitter account, Facebook page, and email newsletter that sends each new blog post by email.

This sounds like a lot more work than it is. I have systems that automatically post to my social media streams and email the newsletters out once a blog post is published. So nearly all the work is posting each blog article. Not that this isn't work--it is--but all that other stuff is mostly automatic once it's set up.

I never thought that any other layers of social media posting would be useful to me as a textbook author trying to stay connected with--or at least visible to--my present and potential users.

But then a former editor started a Nuzzel newsletter, to which I subscribe. It's a daily newsletter. It turns out that his interests--digital education resources--overlap mine. And he's got a good eye for what's new and what's relevant.  So I looked into what Nuzzel is and how it works.

Nuzzel is a free tool that piggybacks on your Twitter account. So you need a Twitter account before you can use Nuzzel. Each day, at a time you specify, Nuzzel sends out a list of headlines that are gleaned from your Twitter connections' feeds. Each headline includes each original article's title, first few lines, image, and a link to the whole article in the original location.

Nuzzel will find the articles for you, based on the how many of your connections have shared the same article. You can let it run all by itself, but you have the option of "curating" the content. You can do this be looking at Nuzzel's suggestions and deleting those not relevant to your purpose. You can add other articles by browsing "Friends" feeds or "Friends of Friends" and other aggregations provided in the Nuzzel dashboard. You can even upload a URL of a news item not found in those lists.

You also have the option of adding a comment by any (or all) of the articles that appear in your curated newsletter. You can also add a custom headline each day if it suits you.

You can distribute a link to your Nuzzle newsletter to any contact list (Nuzzel will help you automatically load them from your email contacts or LinkedIn, for example).

So I started my own Nuzzel newsletter. For my Twitter feed @theAPprofessor, which targets users and potential users of my textbooks. Then I set Nuzzel to post to Facebook and LinkedIn in addition to my Nuzzell subscribers.

Here's what I learned:
  1. Nuzzel is super easy to set up and use.

  2. My Nuzzel newsletter has been subscribed to by people outside my subscribers in any other channel. That is, it has gained me a wider readership than I had before.

  3. I get a lot more re-posting of content than in any other channel. This has helped me grow my Nuzzel readership beyon "the usual suspects" by its wider, organic distribution of individual issues.

  4. I often include one "headline" from a past posting from one of my blogs. This allows me to recycle content that is still useful but is easily overlooked by my regular blog subsribers.

  5. My recycled blog posts frequently appear in Nuzzel's list of my most frequently read articles for the week. So I know that folks are digging into my blogs, reinforcing my reader ship there.

  6. It's easy. Did I mention that? It's not perfect, though. Read on.

  7. It's daily--no skipping days. Not even on weekends. you can always just let Nuzzel pick the news to share, based on popularity among your Twitter friends.

  8. I found that I prefer to actively "curate" each day's issue before it goes out, because the automatic listing nearly always has stuff that doesn't relate to my purpose. Some folks just have to post something related to politics or celebrities or other stuff that is not relevant to my readers--and if a few of them post the same thing, it may show up in my newsletter.

  9. Some news items I find on my own cannot be added to my Nuzzel newsletter. I'm not sure why, but I'm advised that "this is not a valid news item." And nothing will allow me to add it.

  10. Some articles get posted in Nuzzel as "Article Not Found" or something similar. Probably an artifact of differing ways that metadata is formatted. But the link still takes you to the article you want. I've found that adding a comment that outlines the title and/or content of the seemingly broken news item is helpful when that happens.

Check out past issues of my Nuzzel newsletter here:  Click on archive, then look through several. Looking at just one won't give a very complete picture of the potential of Nuzzel. You can subscribe at the same link. It's all about anatomy and physiology and college teaching--but you may find the news items interesting no matter what your discipline is.

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